2017 NCAA Tourney Picks

Another bracket to make fun of.

I have Villanova beating four seeded Purdue in the title game. Arizona and UCLA breaking the Pac-12 streak of not making it to the Final Four.

A few upsets to, with Winthrop beating Butler and Middle Tennessee going to the Sweet Sixteen. UNC-Wilmington takes down Virginia and Nevada upsets Iowa State.

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Another bracket to make fun of

2016 bracket attemptIt’s been a long time…

But the madness is here and I need to get my upsets out so I can hopefully take credit for them later.

I think every 11 seed can beat its 6 seed foe, watch that come back to hurt me. Wichita State and Arkansas-Little Rock are my Cinderellas. Both can turn people over and defend, that means it will just take some timely shooting to carry them through the Sweet 16.

Speaking of turning people over and defending, that’s why Kansas, Texas A&M, West Virginia and Michigan State are in my Final Four.

Now watch none of those teams make it in the next 2 weeks. That’s March Madness.

 

Week 5 viewing guide

Week 5 guide

With conference play in full swing Saturday’s slate of games are loaded all day for the first weekend of October. Texas Tech at Baylor is a sleeper to watch as we all know Tech can score and should have defeated TCU last weekend.

The SEC have important games as even Alabama could be eliminated from the playoff with its second SEC loss. Georgia will try to do exactly that.

Notre Dame at Clemson is the primetime game as both teams are trying to prove themselves as elite. A Notre Dame win will put the Irish in the driver seat for a playoff spot.

Photos from Final Four Friday

DSC_1180I was in the building for four hours of team practices of the Final Four and got off some good pictures. It’s a great time here in Indianapolis, seeing all these fan bases come together.

Michigan State had the most fun with its practice time, with a dunk show at the end. The Spartans also took some half-court shots in the final seconds. It kind of gave the impression that Michigan State was just happy to be there. Then again it may have shown just how loose the team is.DSC_1156DSC_1153DSC_1165Duke was the most business like in its practice. No fooling around under Coach K.DSC_1171DSC_1172DSC_1177Wisconsin ended its practice with a half-court contest of its own, but also shot free throws to get a feel for shooting them in a football venue. DSC_1182DSC_1194DSC_1209Kentucky also shot free-throws but ended its practice 15 minutes early. Coach John Calipari didn’t stick around to talk to Jim Nantz as the team walked off the court to wave to the fans. DSC_1214DSC_1224DSC_1236DSC_1254I’m still picking Kentucky to win it all but it’s a little shaky right now. Should be a great Final Four Saturday.

The Pain of Miami University Football

The poor Miami RedHawks had a chance to snap their gargantuan losing streak Saturday to FCS Eastern Kentucky but fell to the Colonels 17-10. It may have been Miami University’s best chance to win on the season and now…  there’s this.

The quote from Coach Martin, “Anybody that doubts us, I would doubt us too” at the three-minute mark speaks to the depression that is Miami University football. Having Office Max as a sponsor shows the depression too. The last time Miami won a game was in October of 2012. Think about where you were 23 months ago. For me, I’ve changed jobs three times since then. The Republicans thought they were going to take down Obama in the 2012 election. Ray Rice was a productive running back leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl. Comic book fans were genuinely optimistic about Man of Steel and Iron Man 3 coming out the following summer. That’s how long it has been since Miami of Ohio beat someone in football.

Saturday’s game led to this depressing tweet.

That’s right, six turnovers. Yet Miami only lost by a touchdown.

Miami’s next four remaining home games all are winnable but road trips to Michigan and Cincinnati come first. Miami will enter MAC play on a 20-game losing streak, the longest streak among FBS teams by a massive margin. If the RedHawks can enter MAC action without any injuries, then maybe Miami can steal a game this year. Otherwise Coach Chuck Martin is going to have several more painful press conferences.

Clemson Runs Up the ScoreSensor Scans

The Clemson Tigers were not happy about their loss to the Georgia Bulldogs in the first week and took their frustrations out on FCS South Carolina State Saturday. We’re talking 73-7 frustration. Clemson had a 44-0 lead in the third quarter and were still passing the ball. The Tigers even put the ball in the air in the fourth quarter. Don’t care if you’re second string is in, you don’t pass the football against an inferior opponent when you’re up by six touchdowns in the second half. This is not a video game.

South Carolina State got revenge late when the score was 73-0. The Bulldogs took a fumble and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown. Whether it was karma, football Gods, or the Holy Spirit, Clemson was denied their precious 73-0 shutout. They play at Florida State on Sept. 20 and you can bet who I’ll be rooting for. Let’s see them run up the score against FSU.

Appalachian State Loves Cupcakes

Appalachian State earned or should I say received its first win of the year Saturday, smashing Campbell 66-0. Problem is Campbell is a member of the Pioneer League, a FCS conference that does not offer athletic scholarships for football. So basically, the Moutaineers defeated the equivalent of a Division II school. This is App State’s first year in the FBS but come on. Again, the Holy Spirit or Doctor Who interfered with the blowout as the game had a lightning delay after the first half. Few came back to watch the one-sided affair.

Campbell tried to make the most of it, as it featured pictures of Campbell students on a bus traveling to the game.

Congratulations to the Campbell Camels for showing spirit despite the mismatch.

Division II Pride

Congratulations to Division II McMurry for defeating FCS Houston Baptist Saturday 26-17. Sure, it was the first official game in the history of Houston Baptist football but it is always a big deal when a D-2 team knocks off a D-1. Just ask McMurry.

McMurry is referencing how ESPN and other cable outlets only display Division I scores in the bottom ticker. Getting on it as a winner is huge for McMurry. Maybe the school should reconsider dropping down to Division III.

It’s going to be a tough starting out for Houston Baptist as the Southland Conference will not show much mercy on them. Such is life as a football start-up.

Night Life in El-Paso

UTEP wanted to make sure its home game with Texas Tech was televised and went to great lengths to do so. Like having the kickoff at 11 p.m. Eastern Time so Fox Sports 1 would broadcast it. FS1 showed BYU at Texas earlier in the evening as that game took priority. While the game started a 9 p.m. local time it didn’t end until 12:41 a.m. in El-Paso and 2:41 back East. UTEP lost 30-26 so I hope the late night exposure was worth it.

The Slightly Better Football Teams

I take it "Cal Wins" doesn't happen very much.

I take it “Cal Wins” doesn’t happen very much.

You can’t win a national title in the first week of the season but you can satisfy the expectations of your fan base. For those hoping their football team would just “get better” then you’re in luck if you are a fan of one of these teams from each conference.

ACC: Virginia

Virginia hung in there against UCLA Saturday and that’s a win for a 2-10 team in 2013. Heck, this was a squad that was trashed by Ball State at home last season 48-27 so losing 28-20 to No. 7 UCLA is amazing. The Cavaliers have an experienced team and should break their ACC losing streak this season given how weak the league is. Going to a bowl game will be tough but anything over 2 wins should be a plus.

PAC-12: California

Remember how California lost by two touchdowns to Northwestern in the season opener a season ago in Berkeley? Things changed as the 1-11 Golden Bears won their first game at Northwestern 31-24 in what I thought was the biggest upset of the weekend. Cal has already matched last season’s win total and now gets to host FCS Sacramento State this week.

Big Ten: Rutgers

Big Ten fans are happily claiming Rutgers after its road trip to Seattle where it knocked off Washington State 41-38. The Scarlet Knights did go 7-6 last season but not many were expecting them to do much in the Big Ten. Maybe Rutgers will avoid the Big Ten cellar after all.

Big 12: West Virginia

Going up against Alabama, many thought West Virginia would be cannon fodder but the Mountaineers made a game of it. It was a 33-23 defeat but the Mountaineers trailed by only three at halftime. After a 4-8 season, West Virginia has a chance to win four of its next five games. Its date with Maryland on Sept. 13 will be crucial.

SEC: Tennessee

Tennessee shutdown an explosive offense in Utah State Sunday night, holding it to seven points. Tennessee is looking to improve from 5-7 this season and should be favored in at least five more games this season. The Vols should be going bowling.

American Athletic Conference: Temple

One team in the SEC that did not improve was Vanderbilt, a school that was embarrassed by Temple on Thursday 37-7. Temple was 2-10 in 2013 and is a lock to surpass last season’s win total. Temple really made the new SEC Network look bad as all the “experts” called for a Vanderbilt rout. Nice job Owls.

Mountain West: Hawaii

Hawaii only won one game last season but showed improvement in its one point loss to No. 25 Washington 17-16. The Rainbow Warriors should have won this game as they held the Huskies scoreless in the 2nd half. They will get another crack at a PAC 12 school as Oregon State comes to the islands Saturday.

Sun Belt: Georgia State

Georgia State surpassed last season’s win total with a victory over FCS Abilene Christian Wednesday 38-37 meaning it is already an amazing season for Panther fans. Seriously, everything from here on out is bonus money. The Panthers will have a great shot at beating a FBS team for the first time in school history this Saturday as they host the Aggies of New Mexico State.

MAC: Akron

The MAC East is has no clear favorite this season and maybe Akron can sneak in. The Zips blew out FCS Howard Thursday and that is an upgrade from last season. All five of Akron’s wins in 2013 had a margin of victory of a touchdown or less. This could be the year of the Zips. We’re pulling for you Terry Bowden.

Conference USA: UAB

UAB hasn’t even sniffed bowl eligibility in the last few years but that could be changing. UAB broke a three-game losing streak to in-state rival Troy State Saturday. In the rebuilt Conference USA look for the Blazers to do some damage despite a 2-10 record in 2013.